Posted in History, Non-fiction, Teen, Tween Reads

A Weird and Wild Beauty tells the story of Yellowstone

yellowstoneA Weird and Wild Beauty: The Story of Yellowstone, the World’s First National Park, by Erin Peabody (Feb. 2016, Sky Pony Press), $14.99, ISBN: 978-1-63450-204-7

Recommended for ages 12+

A beautiful book with stunning photo and a powerful ecological and historical message, Erin Peabody’s A Weird and Wild Beauty tells the story of the founding of Yellowstone National Park. She tells us about the hard journey and oftentimes grueling expedition West; about the lives of the men who explored and risked their lives to bring the natural beauty of Yellowstone to the rest of the post-Civil War United States; and provides breathtaking photos and paintings of the natural wonder that is Yellowstone.

More than just a book on the beauty of Yellowstone, readers will discover that there was a fight to keep Yellowstone’s lands untouched: from Jay Cooke, a robber baron who wanted to build a transcontinental railroad that would cut through the lands, to the Native American tribes who wanted their tribal homelands to remain untouched.

A welcome addition to tween and teen nonfiction, A Weird and Wild Beauty is a lovely addition to collections in classrooms, libraries, and homes. I’ll have to booktalk this one to let the kids know it’s on the shelf – nonfiction, especially in the YA area, tends to go unnoticed – but with summer vacation coming, I could pick any picture out of this book and talk about dream destinations. History fans will love the narrative storytelling voice Peabody assumes, and art fans need to know about this book because of the stunning work by the expedition’s photographer, William H. Jackson, and the painter, Thomas Moran. Readers will learn the complex processes behind each photo – there were no negatives in the early days of photography, so photographers (and their poor pack animals) had to carry hundreds of pounds of equipment, including glass plates of different sizes to capture different images – and painting, or woodcut. It’s a beautifully artistic book that art students should not miss.

"Crater of the Giant Geyser", illustration from "The Wonders of the Yellowstone"; NP Langford; May/June 1871 issue of Scribner's Monthly
“Crater of the Giant Geyser”, illustration from “The Wonders of the Yellowstone”;
NP Langford; May/June 1871 issue of Scribner’s Monthly, from Yellowstone’s Photo Collection

The book includes maps, a guide to Yellowstone’s hydrothermal features, complete endnotes, sources, photo credits, and an index. Make sure to consider this beautiful resource for your collections.


I'm a mom, a children's librarian, bibliophile, and obsessive knitter. I'm a pop culture junkie and a proud nerd, and favorite reads usually fall into Sci-Fi/Fantasy. I review comics and graphic novels at WhatchaReading ( I'm also the co-founder of On Wednesdays We Wear Capes (, where I discuss pop culture and geek fandom from a female point of view.

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